Work-related injuries: Should my employer be responsible?

by Kei Chan

Musculoskeletal disorders short form MSD are injuries or disorders of muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. And such conditions are usually caused under work conditions. 

To make MSD simpler to understand, it is actually a type of repetitive stress injuries as we always repeat the same motion over and over again such as when you using your mouse (causing stress to the wrist), or you have been in the same position for so long with a poor posture that causes stress and strains to the body muscles! 


MSD chart 

Source from ergo-plus

Examples of MSD includes:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Muscle/ Tendon strain
  • Ligament Sprain
  • Tension Neck Syndrome
  • Thoracic Outlet Compression
  • Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
  • Epicondylitis
  • Radial Tunnel Syndrome
  • Digital Neuritis
  • Trigger Finger / Thumb
  • DeQuervain’s Syndrome
  • Mechanical Back Syndrome
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Ruptured / Herniated Disc,
  • and many more.

MSD are often associated with high costs to employers such as absenteeism, low productivity, increased in health care and workers' compensations cost.  These cases cost even more than nonfatal injuries and disease. It is the largest category of workplace injuries and responsible for almost 30% of all workers' compensation costs  (source: BLS)

Most important is, Musculoskeletal disorders are preventable!

Basically, if the furniture and environment the worker is in is out of his body’s capabilities and limitations, he is at a higher risk in developing musculoskeletal imbalance or disorder, at the end, which means, medical expenses lie on both employees' and employers' shoulder.

 Three primary ergonomic risk factors:

1. High repetitive tasks: i.e Typing (without proper arm rest support/ shoulder stiffened while typing)

2. Forceful exertions: higher force mean increase in muscle effort which leads to increase risk of strains and sprains

3. Poor posture: results in excessive force on joints and muscle overload.

For the three points above, extensive exposure without proper evaluations and change will definitely lead to MSD. 

It is never too late to make a change to how we work. Prevention is The Cure.